Biggie’s Love Triangle

3-24-10

Wednesday brought several surprises. The first was that we were giving out a second loan to another group of women even though the microfinance bank account had a total of zero Cedis and the cashbox only had a hundred or so. At any rate, Hayford called me and said to prepare the documents necessary for the group so I did. We gave three of the women loans of 150 GHC and the fourth 100GHC because it was her first.

In the evening Meggin, Laralyn and myself went to the salsa club and this time we brought along the entire African dance troupe that Laralyn has been studying with. It was insanely awkward to say the least. The night started poorly because Laralyn got suckered into paying the trotro fare for everyone to go and get back home. We made our way to the hotel, going through all of the back roads of Accra because the driver didn’t have the right stickers to pass the police barriers without being stopped, and sometime after the sun had set and the night sellers had come out we finally made it to the Coconut Grove Hotel (where salsa is). When we piled out of the trotro the driver asked what time he should pick us back up. Richard, the head dancer, asked Laralyn what time and she explained that it ended at 11pm but the three of us would be continuing on to LaBadi Beach for a reggae concert. He told the driver to pick us up at 11PM and the driver insisted on being paid more because he usually stops running at 9:30PM. Laralyn stood her ground (she was paying him 40 Cedi which is more than he would have made for that trip already) and told him no, so he left angrily and we went inside.

We were early so it was easy to get seats for the troupe. After sitting everyone looked at each other awkwardly and eventually I got up to get a drink and some kebobs (mmm… they were so tasty again that night). When I returned to the table everyone was still sitting there twiddling their thumbs so I pulled Laralyn aside to assess the situation. The group had little money but when Laralyn invited them she made it clear that she couldn’t pay for everyone’s food and drinks. I broke down and bought four large bottles of water for the tables and this seemed to perk everyone up. Soon the salsa lessons started and we all went to the dance floor to learn a few basic moves. Richard the Dancer chose me as his partner, Laralyn got Moses, and Meggin got Esa (pronounced Eesah) who had been sitting next to her. As can be expected I was terrible at moving my hips but I got the steps down well enough, so when the real salsa dancing began I politely moved around a bit with Richard the Dancer before excusing myself to sit back down. I wasn’t the only one- almost all of the dancers returned to their seats once the lesson ended.

I sat down next to Richard, the head drummer (yes there are two Richards), and we spoke for a bit about his career and his ambitions to work for the University of Legon someday. He also told me that he is bringing me a gift on Tuesday. I can’t wait to see what he thinks is appropriate to give someone he only new for two hours. Anyhow, the night went on with much sitting and a bit of dancing until the music changed to hiplife. The group got excited and everyone piled onto the dance floor. They did some traditional dancing and mixed it with current moves and they all seemed much happier. At some point someone bought more water (I later found out that it was Laralyn) and before I knew it it was 11PM and the hotel was shutting down. We all stumbled out of the hotel and the group loaded into the trotro (oh, Richard invited himself along to LaBadi Beach with us) and left the four of us to find our way to the beach.

To wrap up the night we paid the 5 Cedi cover to get into the beach (Laralyn paid for Richard) and sat listening to live reggae music for a while. Richard told a waiter that I was buying him a Fanta (this is after I complained about how expensive everything was at the beach and decided to get apeteshi, the cheap Ghanaian gin spirit and split a water with Laralyn; water is not an advisable chaser for apeteshi) and I told him no I wasn’t (because I am not a sucker like Laralyn, whose mood steadily declined as the night progressed). He bought it for himself. We left him at the table and went to dance, where we met up with Justine and Willan, finally back from their trip to the north and I got to see Aziz as well. Eventually we left the beach and paid for a taxi to Circle. On the trotro home Richard let us know that he would pay for his fare (I wanted to punch him in the face) and on our walk up the hill to the house Meggin, Laralyn and I discussed how ridiculous the evening had been. We found out that Laralyn had also given them money to buy kenkey after leaving the hotel.

As for Biggie, she really has gotten herself into a love triangle. She spent the evening talking and dancing with Esa, which made Richard jealous since he has a crush on her. She also works with Esa at the orphanage/school so they spend a lot of time together. I think she likes him, but they will have to contend with a jealous Richard for a while. If I haven’t explained this yet, she got her nickname one evening while walking back to Amasaman with the dancec troupe. Moses turned to Laralyn and said “Biggie’s not happy today is she?” and so the nickname began.

Practical Ghanaian Travel Tip #73: Locals are the best way to find out what is happening in Accra on any given night. Although the guidebook gives the names of a few places to find fun, there are many great hideouts that will give you a great sense of a Ghanaian night versus one spent with tourists and scammers.

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